Are Romance Novels Taboo?

ist2_6340140-vintage-love-book1When I set out to write The House on Black Lake, I did not consider the genre of the book. I only knew I had a story to tell that was so powerful, it consumed much of my time and passion for the next four years.  When the book was fully edited, I was told I must find a genre to market my book to a niche audience.  My editor had warned me that many agents will turn you down outright if you mention the words "romance" or "erotic."  So, I chose "psychological thriller", an apt title for a book about a woman's journey into the dark shadows of herself.  However, I quickly realized I was on the wrong course.

I solicited a second opinion from another agent, asking for an analysis of the first few chapters. I was aghast when she informed me my book was a "contemporary gothic romance", or "erotic gothic romance." I  professed to have never read a tawdry romance or erotica novel, although I had read many erotic and romantic literary works. I associated the former with lonely women locked in loveless marriages, who lived their lives through others.  These books were certainly not for an independent and adventurous woman such as myself.

Some have called romance novels porn for women, and they, with only a few exceptions, are generally viewed with distain by the literary commununity.  Of course, it is a fact that many romance novels are poorly crafted and feed off the needs of women who desire to lead more vibrant lives than allowed by mainstream society.  Yet, there have been masterpieces of romantic literature, most promintently Du Maurnier's Rebecca, the Bronte sisters and the works of  Jan Austin.  Whether or not they deserve respect, the romance and erotic factories are where the majority of books are sold, in times of affluence and in time of depression. Romance and erotica are what a large population of women want, despite the taboo.

Yet, it can be successfully argued that every book is a romance novel.   In every genre of fiction, romance drives the novel. Love/ Passion for "someone or something" creates conflict and drama. Even in the most male driven books, some kind of romantic influence generally finds its way into the plot.  So, all books incorporate elements of  romance, and it is time to come out of the closet.  Human beings strive for love and a sense of completeness with an opposing other.  It is true of both men and women.

I chose the genre,"Neo Gothic Suspence," not because I want to avoid stigma and lose readers like myself,  but because it would be redundant to call it a "romance novel".  The House on Black Lake is a journey into a woman's soul.  It is highly  provocative,  romantic and erotic, because that's want we want- taboo or not.